Los Angeles DWP to end water and power shutoffs for low-income customers who can’t pay $8 or more
SACRAMENTO — Nearly 3,000 customers will lose their water and electricity Monday, giving the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power (LADWP) a rare second chance to deliver services.
The California Public Utilities Commission on Tuesday approved the DWP’s plan to end shutoffs, even after months of delays.
“This is a historic moment in the history of our department,” said DWP General Manager Mike Fezza.
The order requires the DWP to notify customers of the end of shutoffs on Monday and deliver services to those who have paid, but not for the rest. The agency then has 90 days to notify those who were shut off between March and June.
The shutoffs were ordered in August 2015 for low-income customers who owe a combined $1,500 or more on their power bills, and who can’t pay those debts by the end of June.
The cuts will affect 1,500 low-income families with an average monthly income of $1,150, according to the nonprofit Californians Against High Hydroelectricity project. They also will affect 4,200 customers who are on fixed incomes, often with no mortgage, and who had electricity shutoffs that cut their power.
The cuts are far higher than the $500 the state DWP proposed when it ordered the shutoffs in 2015, and Fezza said it will be hard for customers to absorb the loss.
Fezza said he was pleased the agency took ownership of the problem and began planning. He noted that a similar program ended in early 2016 after customers protested that the cuts were too severe.
“I’ll always be proud of the work we accomplished,” Fezza said. “We did the right thing at the right time.”
The shutoffs were initially ordered without any funding to compensate customers who lost their service, and as the agency was trying to figure out how to cover the losses, the cuts were delayed and other cuts were imposed on the department.
On June 14, the Public Utilities Commission approved the utility’s request to continue with the shutoffs while it considered legal challenges over the timing and process of shutting off customers.
Those legal challenges ultimately were filed by two former state